Influence of motor units recruitment and firing rate on the soundmyogram and EMG characteristics in cat gastrocnemius

Claudio Orizio, Moshe Solomonow, Richard Baratta, Arsenio Veicsteinas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The separate contributions of the recruitment level and of the firing rate of the motor units on the soundmyogram and electromyogram time domain parameters were investigated during stimulation of the motor nerve of the cat gastrocnemius muscle. Upon orderly increase in the number of active motor units at a fixed firing rate, both the peak to peak amplitude (P-Pmax) and the root mean square (RMS) of the sound myogram increased. At full recruitment the increase in firing rate from 2.5 to 50 Hz induced an exponential decline in the P-Pmax. The RMS, however, followed this trend only from 15 to 50 Hz while showing an increase from 2.5 to 10 Hz. During simultaneous changes of recruitment and firing rate, the effect of increasing the number of motor units on the P-Pmax and RMS is dampened by the increasing firing rate. The peak to peak amplitude of the EMG compound action potential increased with the number of active motor units. Moreover, its amplitude was not influenced by the firing rate. The EMG RMS, however, increases as a function of the firing rate. The results indicate that both the number and the firing rate of the active motor units contribute to the determination of the soundmyogram characteristics. Moreover, the peculiar changes of the soundmyogram time domain properties, compared to the ones of the EMG, allow one to differentiate the influence of the motor units number and firing rate on the electrical and mechanical performance of the muscle when stimulated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-241
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • Electrical stimulation
  • Electromyogram
  • Motor units
  • Muscle sound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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